Sarah F. Tebbens

Fawcett Hall 203, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Dayton, OH 45435-0001



2020 - present   Professor, Department of Physics, Wright State University

2007 – 2020      Associate Professor (with tenure), Department of Physics, Wright State University

2004 – 2006        Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Wright State University

2003 – 2004        Associate Professor (with tenure), College of Marine Science, Univ. of South Florida

1996 – 2003        Assistant Professor, College of Marine Science, Univ. of South Florida

1994 – 1995        Visiting Assistant Professor, Dept. of Marine Science, Univ. of South Florida


Nonlinear analysis and modeling of natural processes including coastal change, submarine volcanism, seismology, and environmental hazards. Nonlinear properties of physical systems, including fractal antennae. Studies of of self-affine time series, both synthetic and naturally occurring, using fourier analysis and nonlinear techniques.

Education History

  • 1994 Columbia University, Ph.D. in Marine Geology and Geophysics
  • 1992 Columbia University, M.Phil in Marine Geology and Geophysics
  • 1989 Columbia University, M.A. in Marine Geology and Geophysics
  • 1987 Vassar College, B.A., cum laude and Departmental Honors, Geology
  • 1983 Mamaroneck High School, Mamaroneck, NY 10543



Recent Service:

President, Nonlinear Geophysics Section, American Geophysical Union (2019-2020).

President-elect, Nonlinear Geophysics Section, American Geophysical Union (2017-2018)

Panelist and Reviewer, National Science Foundation, 2020

Chair, Faculty Development Committee, Department of Physics, Wright State University.

Students Advised

M.S. Major Advisor:

Ewing, J.J., M.S., 2018, Physics, Wright State University, Advisor, 2016-2018
     Thesis: Electromagnetic Properties of Fractal Antennas
     Position after graduation: PhD candidate at Michigan Technological University

Rachel Myers Taylor, M.S., 2013, ES, Wright State University, Co-Major Advisor, 2009-2013
     Thesis: “Change in Shoreline Position for two Consecutive years using LIDAR along the
     Outer Banks, North Carolina”

Joseph vanGaalen, M.S., 2004, University of South Florida, Advisor, August 2002 – 2004
     Thesis: “Longshore sediment transport from northern Maine to Tampa Bay, Florida: A
     comparison of longshore field studies to relative potential sediment transport rates derived
     from wave information hindcast data”
     Positions after graduation: Research Assistant at the U.S. Geological Survey Center for
     Coastal & Regional Marine Studies, St. Petersburg, FL. As of 2016, Director of Academic
     Assessment at Florida SouthWestern State College.

Douglas Wilder, M.S., 2003, University of South Florida, Committee Member, 1998-2001, 
     Co-Major Advisor, 2001-2003
     Thesis: “Pacific-Nazca/Farallon evolution from chron 10 to chron 4”
     Position after graduation: Research Assistant at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Eric Nelson, M.S., 2001, University of South Florida, Advisor, 1998-2001
     Thesis: “The role of subaerial geomorphology in coastal morphodynamics, Outer Banks, NC.”
     Position after graduation: Research Assistant at the U.S. Geological Survey Center for
     Coastal & Regional Marine Studies, St. Petersburg, FL. Mr. Nelson applied IDL skills,
     learned as part of his studies at USF, to research that supported the USGS coastal change
     program. In 2003, Nelson returned to USF to study Architecture.

Brian Donahue, M.S., 1999, University of South Florida, Co-Major Advisor, 1996-1999
     Thesis: “The Effect of Sea-Level Rise and Estuarine Retreat on the Sediment Distribution
     Seaward of the Mouth of Tampa Bay.”
     Position after graduation: Marine Technician and Assistant Instructor at the USF College of
     Marine Science.

Ph.D. Major Advisor

Jeffrey Smigelski, Ph.D., 2013, ES, Wright State University, Advisor, 2006- 2013
     Dissertation: "Water Level Dynamics of the North American Great Lakes: Nonlinear
     Scaling and Fractional Bode Analysis of a Self-Affine Time Series."
     Positions after graduation: Post-doctoral scientist at the Wright State Research
     Institute (2013-2014). Research Engineer and Data Scientist at the Wright State Research Institute
     (2014-2015) specializing in data analysis and computer algorithms.

Stephen Burroughs, Ph.D., 2001, University of South Florida, Advisor, 1997-2001
     Dissertation: “New methodologies for scaling laws to quantify geologic phenomenon.”
     Positions after graduation: Associate Professor, [Full] Professor, and Chair of the
     Department of Chemistry and Physics, University of Tampa. He is a co-author of six
     peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Burroughs received one of five 2002 USF Outstanding
     Dissertation Awards. Retired.

M.S. Committee service

Vasko, Erik S., M.S., 2018, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wright State University,
     Thesis: “Power Scaling of the Mainland Shoreline of the Contiguous United States”

Kalel Alsaeed, M.S., 2017, Physics (medical concentration), Wright State University
     Thesis: “Determination of the Shape of a Flattening Filter Free (FFF) Radiation Beam
     When Modified by a Physical Wedge”

Remona Heenkenda, Physics (medical concentration), Wright State University

Hind Adawi, M.S., 2016, Physics, Wright State University
     Thesis: “Surface effect of ferromagnetic nanoparticles on transition between single and
     multi-domain structure or between single domain structure and superparamagnetic phase”

Scott Baker, M.S., 2016, EES, Wright State University
     Thesis: “Power Distribution and Probabilistic Forecasting of Economic Loss and Fatalities
     due to Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes, and Floods in the United States”

Patrick Craig, M.S., 2013, EES, Wright State University
     Thesis: “Quantitative Analysis of the Polarity Reversal Pattern of the Earth’s Magnetic
     Field and Self-Reversing Dynamo Models”

Greg Berman, M.S., 2002, EES, Wright State University
     Thesis: “Morphologic Characterization and Evolution of Egmont Deep and its Influence on
     the Ebb-Tidal Delta of Tampa Bay, Florida”

Patricia Pratt, M.S., 1997, University of South Florida
     Thesis: “Spectral Classification of Bottom Type in an Underwater Coastal Environment for
     Remote Sensing Applications”

Yoav Rappaport, M.S., 1996, University of South Florida
     Thesis: “Seamount Shape and Size Distribution Near Easter Island”

Ph.D. Committee service

Alison Agather, Ph.D., 2018, ES, Wright State University, Committee Member, 2015-2018
     Dissertation: “Geochemical and Microbiological Controls on Mercury Methylation in
     Natural Waters”

Katlin Bowman, Ph.D., 2014, ES, Wright State University, Committee member, 2012-2014
     Dissertation: “Mercury Distributions and Cycling in the North Atlantic and Easter Tropical
     Pacific Oceans”

Zhengrong Jerry Lui, Ph.D., 1996, University of South Florida
     Dissertation: “The Origin and Evolution of the Easter Seamount Chain”


PUBLICATIONS (students in italics)     

Coffey, Tristan J., Barton, Christopher C., Tebbens, S.F., Power Scaling of Ice Floe Sizes in the Western Weddell Sea, Antarctic Ocean, submitted Dec 2020, Pure and Applied Geophysics.

Tebbens, S.F., Landslide Scaling: A Review, 2019, Journal of Earth and Space Science, 7(1). DOI: 10.1029/2019EA000662. (Link to paper here)

Geise, G.R., C.C. Barton, and S.F. Tebbens, 2016, Power-Scaling of Floe Areas in the Arctic East Siberian Sea, Pure and Applied Geophysics, DOI: 10.1007/s00024-016-1364-2. (Link to paper here)

van Gaalen, J., S.F. Tebbens, and C.C. Barton, 2016, Longshore Sediment Transport Directions and Rates from Northern Maine to Tampa Bay, Florida: Literature Compilation and Interpretation. Journal of Coastal Research. DOI: 10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-15-00002.1

Lazarus, E., A. Ashton, AB. Murray, S. Tebbens, S.  Burroughs2011, Cumulative Versus Transient Shoreline Change:  Dependencies on Temporal and Spatial Scale, Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, v. 116, F02014, 10 pages. DOI:10.1029/2010JF001835

Repperger, D. W., K.A. Farris, C.C. Barton, and S.F. Tebbens, 2009, Time series data analysis, using fractional calculus concepts and fractal analysis, Systems, Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, p. 3311-3315. (download pdf below)

Burroughs, S.M., and Tebbens, S.F., 2008, Dune Retreat and Shoreline Change on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Journal of Coastal Research, 24(2B), 104-112. (download pdf below)

Elsner, J.B., V. K. Gupta, S. Lovejoy, V. Lucarina, A. B. Murray, A. S. Sharma, S. Tebbens, A. A. Tsonis, D. Vassiliadis, 2007, Twenty Years of Nonlinear Dynamics in Geosciences, Eos, Trans. AGU, 88(3), 29.

Berman, G.A., D.F. Naar,  A.C. Hine, G.R. Brooks,  S.F. Tebbens, B.T.Donahue, and R. Wilson, 2005, Geologic Structure and Hydrodynamics of Egmont Channel:  An Anomalous Inlet at the Mouth of Tampa Bay, Journal of Coastal Research, 21, 331-357.

Tebbens, S.F. and Burroughs, S.M., 2005, Forest fire burn areas in Western Canada modeled as self-similar criticality, Physica D, 211, 221-234. (download pdf below)

Burroughs, S.M., and S.F. Tebbens, 2005, Power Law Scaling and Probabilistic Forecasting of Tsunami runup heights, Pure and Applied Geophysics, 162, 331-342. (download pdf below)

Tebbens, S.F., S.M. Burroughs, and E.E. Nelson, 2002, Wavelet Analysis of Shoreline Change on the Outer Banks of North Carolina:  An Example of Complexity in the Marine Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 99(1), 2554-2560. (download pdf below)

Donahue, B.T., A.C. Hine, S. Tebbens, S.D. Locker, and D.C. Twichell, 2003, Late Holocene estuarine-inner shelf interactions:  is there evidence of an estuarine retreat path for Tampa Bay, Florida?, Marine Geology, 200, 219-241.

Tebbens, S.F., and S.M. Burroughs, 2003, Self-Similar Criticality, Fractals, 11 (3), 221-231.

Anderson, J., D. Belknap, B. Douglas, D. FitzGerald, C. Fletcher, R. Holman, R. Land, S. Leatherman, B. Richmond, S. Riggs, A. Rodriguez, S. Tebbens, T. Tornqvist, and O. van de Plassche, 2002, CoForce:  Coastal forecasting in rapidly changing environments, GSA Today, 12 (2), 46.

Burroughs, S.M. and S.F. Tebbens, 2002, The upper-truncated power law applied to earthquake cumulative frequency-magnitude distributions, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA), 92 (8), 2983-2993.

Burroughs, S.M. and S.F. Tebbens, 2001, Upper-truncated power law distributions, Fractals, 9, 209-222.

Burroughs, S.M. and S.F. Tebbens, 2001, Upper-Truncated Power Laws in Natural Systems, Pure and Applied Geophysics, 158, 741-757.

Tebbens, S.F. and S.M. Burroughs, C.C. Barton, and D.F. Naar, 2001, Statistical self-similarity of hotspot seamount volumes modeled as self-similar criticality, Geophys. Res. Lett., 28, 2711-2714.

Kruse, S.E., S.F. Tebbens, D.F. Naar, and Q. Lou, 2000, Comparisons of gravity anomalies at pseudofaults fracture zones, and nontransfrom discontinuities from fast to slow spreading areas, J. Geophys. Res., 105, 28,399-28,410.

Bird, R., S.F. Tebbens, D.F. Naar, and M.C. Kleinrock, 1999, Evidence for and implications of stepwise triple junction migration, Geology, 27, 911-914.

Tebbens, S.F., P.G. Coble, and T. Greely, 1998, Teaching Marine Science to the Next Generation: 
Innovative Programs for 6th - 8th Graders Gain momentum, EOS Trans. AGU, 79, 137,141.

Tebbens, S.F., S.C. Cande, L. Kovacs, and J.C. Parra, 1997, The Chile Ridge:  A Tectonic Framework, J. Geophys. Res., 12,035-12,059. (download pdf below)

Tebbens, S.F. and S.C. Cande, 1997, Southeast Pacific Tectonic Evolution from Early Oligocene to
Present: J. Geophys. Res., 12,061-12,084. (download pdf below)


Professional Affiliations/Memberships

  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Sigma Xi
  • The Society of Woman Geographers


Undergraduate Courses taught at Wright State University

           • PHY 1010 Physics Seminar (including basics of Python programming)
           • PHY 1110 Principles of Physics I

           • PHY 1120 Principles of Physics II 

           • PHY 1050 Physics of How Things Work 

           • PHY 4700-02 Fractals and Chaos 

           • HON 400 Essential Environment (Writing Intensive; Intro to Environmental Science)


Graduate Courses taught at Wright State University

          • PHY 8000 Physics Seminar 

          • PHY 4730/6730 Mathematical Physics 

           • ES 7160/ES 7100/ES 701/ES 716/ES 813 Complexity in Environmental Systems, co-taught 

           • GL 699/PHY 799/EES4430/EES 6430 Analyses and Prediction of Complex Natural and Human Systems, co-taught 

           • PHY 7990-12 Minor Problems 

           • ES 799 Independent Topics & Research


Graduate Courses taught elsewhere - selected

           • OCE 6934 Fractals, Chaos, and Non-linear Dynamics

           • OCE 6934 Coastal Processes 

           • OCG 6050 Geological Oceanography, co-taught

           • OCE 6934 Natural Hazards

           • OCE 6934 Methods in Geological Oceanography 


Undergraduate Courses taught elsewhere - selected

           • OCE 2001 Basic Oceanography

           • OCE 4930 Natural Hazards 

           • GLY 4930 Plate Tectonics 

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